You will need:
For services during the season of Conflatorium you will need the following:
- a bowl of ice cubes with a fossil frozen into each (one for each participant and several additional ones)
- A bowl of hot water
- A hand snack for each participant in the shape of an aquatic creature (gold fish crackers, shrimp, strips of Nori glued together with honey to look like jelly fish)
- a candle
- a bell or signing bowl
- a candle snuff
Leader: Who would like to share?
The participants briefly update each other on how they're doing and what's going on in their lives.
The season of Conflatorium (melting) is the second Liturgical Season in the SolSeed Movement's Liturgical Calendar. It symbolizes and celebrates the emergence of complex life in the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, after the melting of Snowball Earth 590 million years ago. During this season the Weekly Service Calls use the following Opening ceremony:
We gather to mark the passing of a week
To align our hearts as one.
(Light the Sol candle) (take an ice cube from bowl and hold it in your hand)
Ice ... just ... ice ...
and then ... [gasp] ... Melting
(Drop the ice cube into warm/hot water)
Warm Sun! Open Water! Dry Land! Scented Breeze!
The sea teems with new lifeforms ...
As the ice melts, they emerge to tell their story!
(pour the ice cubes (or big block of ice) that have things (e.g., trilobites) frozen in them, into the bowl of warm water)
Cells transcend themselves
Uniting with multitudes of sisters to become something more;
Complex life explodes into a dazzling diversity of forms!
(Participants clasp hands, or join two hands clasped if you are alone)
Next opens the mouth, the first structure,
Both the feeder of animals,
and the singularity that
gave animals direction.
("Chase" and then eat some food, e.g. seaweed, suishi, shrimp, or goldfish crackers ... participant's choice)
Then come the senses!
Taste, smell, sight, touch, hearing
((Put fingers on mouth, nose, eye, temple, and ear, thus touching all five senses))
The sensing which gave the first animals reason to swim.
The sensing which still directs us today!
Finally, Animals secrete calcium,
Armour, Shells, Teeth, Bones,
Massive, piling, surfaces fold through open water,
A billion allies emerge,
Life learns to make new reefs, new worlds,
(building motions of one hand on top of another going up up up?)
Cells Join to Cells.
Mouths. Senses. Shells.
From silent ice ... teeming reefs!
(schooling fish motion where each finger is a fish)
You are riding your elephant. You can feel her back against your thighs so you must be riding her. But it is pitch black out and you can't see your own nose let alone your elephant. What ever she is walking on must be very soft because you can hear nothing. The air is so calm and of such a mild temperature that you cannot feel it; no breeze rustles your hair, there is no feeling of warmth nor cold. You sniff the air, but it seems pure, there is no detectable odor.
You wait for something to happen, some change. But it all remains the same. Time passes. Well you assume it passes but how would you know? If it passes, how much of it passes? Seconds, Minutes, Hours? With no events there is nothing to give time scale.
You focus on your breath and it gives you some idea. A breath is only a few seconds so ... How many breaths have you taken? You have no idea? You can't see anything or hear or smell or taste anything. You can feel no more than your breath. You have no idea how much space nor time you have traversed, "I sense nothing!" you exclaim.
Sophia's voice appears in your mind, "I only wish I had such senses,’ her unison voice echoes in your mind and it is all the more disquieting for not having passed through your ears, "To be able to sense Nothing! And at that distance, too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to sense real things, by this light!"
"Very funny, Sophia!" you say sarcastically, and your own voice sounds muffled by the darkness.
"You don't like my humour, Just One?" Sophia asks, still within your mind, "First time trying it out."
You notice no blue glowing gazes, no white robes, no blond hair, "Maybe, your humour is an acquired taste." you say.
"Well there is no accountant of taste." Sophia replies and you wonder how you can be certain it is just in your mind and not through your ears.
You reply, "With a high enough concentration of metaphorium, maybe one could come into existence."
"Perhaps." Sophia says and one of her bodies giggles and you think maybe you heard her, with you ears, perhaps, "But I was making a point, Just One. You think that are you are not sensing anything but to say that you are sensing nothing is closer to the truth."
"No!" you react, "I think that no sensory input is coming through my senses. I am not sensing anything."
"Really?" Sophia asks directly in your auditory complex, "What colour is darkness?"
"Just black," you say without thinking.
"If you can tell what colour it is, then are you not sensing darkness." Sophia challenges you.
"No, my mind is just representing the lack of sensory input through my eyes as darkness." you reply, "I am not sensing darkness, so much as modelling it in my brain."
"It is true," One Sophia-body says, "Her visual cortex is just representing a lack of activity on her optic nerves as blackness."
"Is it true?" answers another body, "Or are the other parts of her mind, sensing darkness from her visual cortex?"
"That is splitting hairs," says the first Sophia-body, "She, as a whole, is still not sensing anything, even if parts of her mind are sensing signals from other parts of her mind."
"Is it splitting hairs though," says a third body, "Even a lack of activity on her optic nerves implies that there is no light reaching her eyes. So, she, as a whole, is still sensing an absence of something, light, sound, temperature, scent."
"It is like her being senses by default," says a fourth body, "Her brain is continuously primed for input, always ready to see, always ready to hear, always ready to feel."
As you hear them talk, you think back to all the awesome sights you have seen, massive rock formation, sunsets, dappled sunlight filtering down through the canopy of a forest. You think back to all of the amazing sound experiences you have had, birds singing in the spring, orchestra's playing, children laughing. You think back to the intensity of the bodily sensations you have had, the caresses, the tickles, the pain.
"Even just listening to us directly through her mind," the fourth body continues, "She experiences memories like sensation. When she sleeps she experiences dream like sensation. If we keep her in this sensory deprived state for too long, she will start to experience hallucination like sensation. Her brain is a sensory processing system. It is incapable of any other mode of being. Even in meditation, as she tries to calm her brain, she falls back on sensation, sensing her breath or just trying to be open to what is occurring around her, present as they say."
The bickering of the Sophia-bodies fades into the background and, slowly, you become aware of the real world around you until, finally, you notice that you can no longer hear them. "I am sensing 'no Sophia'." you think.
Leader: Please join me for seven minutes of silence while we contemplate ...
(Service Leader rings the bell)
(Service Leader rings the bell again at the end of the seven minutes)
Leader: Who would like to share?
The participants take turns talking about what they were thinking about during the contemplation.
Reading of the SolSeed Creed
Please respond to the portions of the Creed highlighted in bold in unison:
- Life is precious.
- It has always been precious,
- it will always be precious.
- Life exuberant
- bursting through boundaries
- to flower and spread
- creates the conditions for more Life,
- in an Upward Spiral
- of ever-growing possibilities.
- As you are alive, and I am alive,
- and in kinship with all other beings
- who call Terra home,
- we are Gaia --
- the body of all Life.
- Gaia's bursting through boundaries is a painful and joyful process.
- It is the pain of Earth giving rebirth to herself.
- It is the joy of a myriad new possibilities emerging.
- The Destiny of Gaia
- is to take root and flower amongst the stars --
- to give birth to a family of living worlds.
- As intelligent sparks of Gaia,
- we are called to express her excellent nature,
- we are called to attend the Rebirthing and the Great Birthing.
- We who answer this call
- dedicate ourselves to Gaia,
- We join together
- in a community of practice
- to align our words and actions
- with our highest aspirations.
- Through awesome experiences
- of cosmic, biological, and cultural creativity,
- we awaken within ourselves and others
- the Cosmic Religious Feeling
- that ignites wonder,
- fosters compassion, and
- inspires invention.
- Our three sacred duties are to
- embrace Passion,
- cultivate Empathy, and
- pursue Wisdom,
- So that our being honors Gaia
- and our striving hastens the Great Birthing.
- Passion drives us.
- Without Passion
- Empathy and Wisdom are lethargic.
- I pledge to stoke the fire in my belly,
- to compassionately care for my inner elephant ---
- to really be me, Happy in the Sun!
- Empathy is transcendent.
- Without Empathy,
- Passion and Wisdom are evil.
- I pledge to love others as I love myself,
- to consider their needs as if they were my own --
- to Grow Ours, not just Get Mine!
- Wisdom is effective.
- Without Wisdom,
- Passion and Empathy are reckless.
- I pledge to train my elephant through regular practice,
- to stand ready to transform my worldview in the face of new evidence --
- to cultivate sound instincts.
- Through Passion, Empathy, and Wisdom
- we have come to know that:
- We are Gaia's People --
- children of the Earth and Sun,
- awakened by starlight,
- discovering --
- We Bring Life!
Leader: We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community or the fires of commitment ... these we carry in our hearts until we are together again.
Leader extinguishes the candle with the Candle Snuff
Leader: May your week be blessed with life and love. Blessed be.